Jer. 20:9 But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like afire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
I am a communicator and I have a story that I want to tell, that I am compelled to share. Some days, like Jeremiah, I feel it will burst out of me if I don’t speak it out loud (or write it down) and know someone heard it. Valued it. I have to know that the things God has placed in my life have a purpose and are being redeemed for something greater.
Yet, sometimes it is difficult for me to communicate. Because I know in my heart what it is I am trying to say. And I think I know how I want it to come out. Really well. Really polished. Using all the right words, telling the story in the right order. Shading my meanings, illustrating my points, painting the meaning of it all into the lives of those who are listening – so that they get it. So that someone gets me. And if I’m honest, I also want it to make me look like a good communicator in the process. Sigh.
What I’m finding is in that moment, when I come to the parts of my story where things radically change, where events converge, where the narrative takes on a cohesive form and things begin to make sense, where the climax is imminent and I can’t wait to connect with another person from my very heart…sometimes words fail. The gap between what I want to say and how it comes out seems huge! And I am heartbroken.
A friend reminded me of a great truth recently. We were talking about this very problem of communicating big truths from my heart to another’s and she basically said, “Deanna, you don’t have to tie it all up with a bow.” I’m still reeling from the power of this sentence.
Oh, I should give some thought to how I want to express myself. Good communicators meticulously think through how their message will be received and how to make that reception as easy and clear as possible. But sometimes, such clinical precision takes away from the raw emotion of one heart opening up to another. Sometimes it is ok for my story to be messy. For me to sound inarticulate, because what I’m trying to say is so big, so meaningful, that sometimes it stretches just a bit beyond my words – and all I’m left with is a, “You know what I mean?” And I can only hope they do.
Part of the compulsion for perfection comes from the fear of that moment when I pour my deepest emotions out, hoping they know what I mean, and I see in their eyes they don’t. Or, they do get what I am trying to say, but they reject it. And by extension, reject me. Here is the communicator’s dilemma – to share and risk misunderstanding, to risk rejection. Or not to share at all and risk blowing up. Sigh.
What I’m learning is that the art of communication is sometimes as messy as the acquisition of things valuable enough to talk about. (FYI – for you teachers out there, that is a very important concept.)
And that is ok. One of the major things communication is about is connection. About the relationship that undergirds the conversation. It is about one heart reaching out to another, to be heard, to be accepted, to be loved. And the stuff of relationship, of connection is really rather messy.
While I am in no way endorsing sloppy communication (and written communication often falls into a different category) what I am saying is it is ok to share your story without it being perfect. Sometimes the presentation isn’t nearly as important as the content or the connection trying to be made.
And I’m left wondering what might happen if in some of our closest relationships, we dropped the need to tie things up with a bow, to wrap the story up with exact words and just concentrated on the content and relational glue that holds it all together?